I let myself into his adjoining office and hear his footsteps behind me. I'm not usually one for midday drinks, but rather than sit down in one of the plush armchairs that provide the perfect view of the Los Angeles skyline, I head to his liquor cabinet. What the hell, I could use some loosening up. I've been wound as tight as a damn virgin since Kylie walked away from my invitation on Saturday night. Women didn't refuse me, and so to say I'm thrown off my game is putting it mildly.

"Want one?" I ask, removing a glass and the bottle of pricey bourbon from the cabinet.

Colton shakes his head. "What's going on, man? Everything okay?"

I take a sip of the liquor and immediately decide drinking is a bad idea. I'm already on edge and frustrated. The alcohol will only make me obsess more. Abandoning the glass, I sit down in a leather chair across from him and let out a heavy sigh. "Tell me about Kylie."

His gaze narrows. "Fuck no. You and Kylie?" He shakes his head, rising to his feet. "No. Abso-fucking-lutely not. If this is what you came here to talk to me about, you can leave now." He points to the door, his expression unwavering.

Goddamn. "You're no fun." Changing my mind, I stride over to the cabinet, grab the glass and down the rest of the drink. It burns like a motherfucker on the way down, but it'll do the trick, numbing whatever this weird sensation is inside my chest.

"I'm serious, Pace. She's a good girl. She doesn't need to get tangled up in your…ways…"

"My ways?" Now I'm getting pissed. He's saying I'm not good enough for her.

"Hit it and quit it. Pump and dump. Whatever you want to call it, it's not happening. Not with Kylie."

"I know that, asshole. I wanted to take her out – like legitimately take her out to dinner. Enjoy her company."

He frowns at me again, that crease in his forehead deepening. "You're telling me you don't want to fuck her?"

"Don't be a dumbshit. Of course I want to fuck her. But I'm just saying that I wouldn’t hit it once and never call her again."

"What would you do, then? Move in? Marry her? Raise her son?" he challenges.

"I haven’t thought that fucking far ahead. Christ." Now I'm pacing the floor of his office and I have no idea why. This entire exchange is stressing me out. I came here hoping to get her number, and instead I'm getting grilled like a steak. He's pulling the older brother card on me like he does so often. The dick.

"And that's exactly why I don't want you messing around with her. You don't have a plan. Kylie needs a man with a plan. Not one with an agenda that only includes getting his crank yanked."

I sink down into the chair, hating this concerned sibling act he's got down to a science.

"Kylie needs someone ready for a serious relationship. That isn't you, and this isn’t a good idea, and we both know it."

"Just like it wasn’t a good idea for you to marry the mega-bitch Stella. But you didn’t listen to me. You had to find out for yourself." His fists clench at his sides. He hates it when I bring up his ex. Too damn bad.

"You didn't forget about our engagement party this Saturday, did you?"

"Of course not," I answer. I'd totally forgotten it was this weekend. Good thing Collins and I had already gone in on a gift. "Where's it at again? The Beverly Hills Country Club?" I smirk. His last engagement party was there.

Colton growls out an expletive, apparently not appreciating my sarcastic sense of humor. "No dipshit. Nothing fancy and over the top. This is Sophie, remember?"

Sophie. Of course I remember. She is nothing like his first wife, thank God. That evil bitch would have eaten your balls for breakfast if you weren't careful. I cup my nuts, remembering her and shudder.

"It's at the house. Six o'clock. We're grilling and playing yard games," Colton finishes.

"Will Kylie be there?" I smirk.

"Get the fuck out," he hisses, tossing his stapler at me on my way out the door. It hits the wall with a dull thud, and I know I'm back in the game. 

***

On Saturday afternoon, I'm seated on the diving board, dangling my bare feet in the pool waiting for the party to begin. Sophie and Colton are standing in the backyard, greeting guests as they arrive, accepting congratulations and showing off her engagement ring. There's still no sight of Kylie. As the days passed, I started to question why my focus was so singularly on this woman. But then I see her, and it all comes rushing back.

She's wearing a white, gauzy sundress with sandals on her feet. Her hair is tied back into a simple ponytail. She's stunning. There is something so natural and simple about her. I cannot look away. My eyes wander down her bare legs. They are toned and tanned nicely. I wonder if she's a runner. Her hand is outstretched and a chubby baby toddles alongside her, holding on to her finger.

It's been a while since I've seen the little guy – I didn't realize he'd be walking now. I continue watching them from my perch on the diving board.

Kylie leads him over to the bride and groom-to-be, then lifts him into her arms, doling out hugs and well-wishes, though I'm not close enough to hear what is being said.

When I see Collins arrive with our dad, I hop off the diving board, the bottom cuffs of my khaki pants wet, and cross the patio.

"Hey old man," I greet him with a thump on the back.

"Pace Alexander." He grins at me and pulls me into a hug.

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